tv Meet the Presss Press Pass NBC May 20, 2012 11:30am-11:45am EDT
i'm david gregory and this is "press pass", your all access pass to an extra meet the press conference. i'm pleased to be joined by madeleine albright. she's out with a new book called prague winter and rediscovery of her family's jewish roots. great to have you. >> good to be with you, thank you. >> talk about what made you take this journey into your childhood and also to such an important period of time? >> i did not know about my background until i was 59 years old. and i was already secretary of state when i found out about my jewish roots. and i wanted to know more about my family's story.
so this book is basically in three layers. at the inner core it is my family story, my father was a diplomat and we spent world war ii in england and he was with the government in exile. the second layer is this amazing historical period of 1937 to 1948 getting into world war ii, getting out of world war ii and fighting the war itself. and the deep implications of the alliance relationships and history we're still living with. the third layer is about the difficulty of the decisions that were made both personally and professionally and very hard always to think that they are all black and white. they were not. and judgments that people make about how decisions were made and so i wanted to take that journey through my personal story but examine these larger issues. >> start with the personal part. what was revealing obviously later in life learning about your jewish roots and what more
did you learn and what kind of impact did it have? >> i was raised a roman catholic and found out i was jewish. but i tried to -- my family story is that my parents were of a generation of first check slow vak yan, didn't start until 1918 and basically wood woodrow wilson and world war i. they did not think of themselves as belonging to any religion. so they then spent the war in england and it was interesting to see how all of the decisions were made there. for me, my question was, my parents died by the time this all -- i found out about everything, so i couldn't ask them questions, so speculating about what their motivations were and how they operated, then also discovering yet again what a hideous story the nazi story
was, how sadistic in many ways. a lot of my family was in ter zeen, a prison camp and what the nazis did was create a group of jewish elders and made them choose who went onto the death camp. i found out about some very difficult decisions that were made by members of my family, for instance, i had my father's sister, who had two children, and one of the daughters was sent out of check slow vak ya on a train for jewish children but the parents felt the younger daughter was too young and did not send her in order to protect her. then she ended up dying. and a lot of people say, did i
do the things that i did because of my background? and i can honestly say no. my background is of a european child and basically somebody that grew up knowing about munich and that terrible things happened when countries don't stand up for their values and what they believe it. i had already begun to be concerned what was going on in bosnia while i was ambassador while i didn't know about my jewish background. my value system is what my parents taught me and it did make me realize that one had to care about people in far away places with unpronounceable names, which is what neville chamberlain had said about czech when it was fine to give a piece away to hitler. >> let me ask you about foreign affairs today in the context of
our presidential debate we're in the midst of. what is the most important pressing foreign policy question you think that needs to be debated in the course of this presidential campaign? >> well, i think in many ways what the role of the united states is, how do we operate internationally and how much is the world dependent on us, how do our national interests play into that? and obviously dealing with the terrorist threat is very important, nuclear proliferation, how to make sure that the worst weapons don't get into the hands of the worst people. our economic security obviously plays into that because our strength depends on our strength at home. it's the integration of all of these issues and then basically what you are responsibilities are towards our allies and to those that in many ways are suffering as a result of their desire for freedom. >> and look what we have just
this weekend with a g-8 meeting and nato at a time when the euro zone is under tremendous economic strain which could have an impact on our own economy here, the whole issue of economic austerity becoming an issue for our debt problems here in the u.s. so we feel such interrelationship and all the while winding down the conflict in afghanistan and what responsibility and role our allies are willing to play as the u.s. makes decisions about where it wants to put its attention and its resources. >> well, i think you put your finger on it by saying interrelationships. the united states, we have been blessed by being behind two oceans and two friendly neighbors and yet it is very clear that it's all related, whether it's economic or environmental or political or military strategic. we are all in this together. so i think that we're going to see over the weekend the
importance that america plays, not just because we are hosting the g-8 and nato summit but also the dependence that other countries have on us and we have on them. and so we're going to be seeing what burden sharing is about, to what extent in chicago, to what extent will the allies be willing to continue to put money into afghanistan, not just on military issues, but in terms of the post military part. and to what extent, what goes on in afghanistan affects how everybody deals with their own issues. and is terrorism something which is obviously the reason that we were are in afghanistan. there's that. then how their budget issues play on whether the contributions they are going to make. >> is it realistic for the united states as it is disengages from the middle east militarily and south asia after huge conflicts, is it realistic
to think our allies will take big leadership role as we may have a change in orientation and think about asia, for instance, in terms of really being both threats and challenges that we have to deal with? is that a realistic role for particularly our european allies to play? >> i believe it is. i have been one of the people that for a long time has says that the u.s. wants to have europe as a partner. i was born in europe so whenever i have discussions with europeans i say i'm just like you, i happen to have been raised in the u.s. you are no longer the problem, you are part of the solution. for most of my adult life, trying to deal with europe was the problem. how to deal with the communist and divided europe and how to bring central and eastern europe into the alliance, i think people ask me what i'm proud of. many of the things i'm proud of expanding nato. because nato continues to be the world's strongest military alliance.
and so the question is to what end. i was asked to work on a new strategic concept for nato as heads of a group of experts, and what we saw was that nato could the way you talk about is out of area, meaning there is a responsibility for issues that are not just member states. so that is what i think europe needs to do is to see that what happens in libya or what happens in afghanistan is important to them and they are partners and that they shouldn't -- and we are an atlantic as well as a pacific power. for us to have renewed interest in asia, i mean it is renewed, this is not something brand-new, i think it appropriate. and i think the europeans need to understand that they also have a stake in what is happening in china and in the south china sea. and generally in terms of asia because to go back to the original word, we are interrelated. >> why is iran so hard?
why is defusing a potential nuclear power there been so difficult across several administrations? >> because i think it's very hard to communicate with the iranians. one of the issues -- i was in the carter administration when the hostage crisis happened and we have really not had intelligence or good information about iran for a very, very long time. we've not had representation so we count on others. we have tried -- we did, president clinton and i, 1988 when the president had been elected to see about a different relationship. but mostly it's that we don't really communicate with them. they feel in order for their national identity that they have a right to have a nuclear program. and we don't trust them. and they do have a right to peaceful nuclear energy, they are signatories of the
nonproliferation committee but that requires inspection and version fiction and way to find out what they are doing and they are not willing to open themselves up. that is what's going on as we speak, using every kind of tool that we have to get them to come clean and tell us what they are doing. >> we'll take a quick break and be back with more of my press pass conversation with secretary madeleine albright. i'll ask about hillary clinton's future in politics. our neighbors... and our communities... america's beverage companies have created a wide range of new choices. developing smaller portion sizes and more low- & no-calorie beverages... adding clear calorie labels so you know exactly what you're choosing... and in schools, replacing full-calorie soft drinks with lower-calorie options. with more choices and fewer calories, america's beverage companies are delivering. with more choices and fewer calories, you woulda thoughtalked from the name of it, it was gonna be packed with sailors. so i immediately picked out the biggest guy in there. and i walked straight up to him.
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